Editor's Note: We put this one in the Naive section because everyone knows that it is impossible for the modern day carbon based brain to find its way to the nearest mall or anything else without some serious assistance from some kind of a machine.

How to Find Your Way Without a GPS

We'd all like to have one of those new GPS's. But times are tough, and maybe it's not going to happen right now. Does that mean you're stuck, unable to go anywhere? Afraid to venture out into the great unknown? Maybe you've just left home, and can hardly find you way to and from work or school, much less, that great mall you've heard about. Or maybe you're afraid to take a dinner invitation because you are invited to a neighborhood you've never been to before. Never fear, you can do as millions of people have done for thousands of years – with the help of a modern convenience that most of them never had – a map. Yes a map. Costs maybe $5.00 and lasts a lifetime, almost. Nobody steals them, and all you need to use it is something else most people overlook in this modern world, your brain. That's right, you have an on-board GPS and computer that are better in almost every way. Here's how:


1. Purchase a road map of the state and/or city you wish to travel in. Most service stations, Walmart, etc. carry these. You want a DETAILED map.

2. Sit down at a table with this map and locate your home or place of residence on it.

3. Trace the roads you are familiar with your finger – taking note of each turn, stop sign, remembering these familiar places, and seeing how they are displayed on the map.

4. Pick a not-to-distant destination you are familiar with and know how to drive to. This could be a school, shopping center, church etc. Again trace your way to and from that destination, making note of each stop sign, turn, street name and neighborhood. Take note of North and South, East and West, the freeway and major streets. This act of identifying on the map things you are already familiar with in real life driving will give you confidence you can find you way to and from anywhere.

5. Now, familiar with the map, plan a trip to a new desired destination you have not been before. Or a destination you are familiar with but planning to arrive there by an route you have not traveled before. Pay attention to your planned path – you will likely travel on familiar roads at the start of your journey. Take note of the part of your journey where you will leave the familiar roads. Write down the main streets you will take from that point. Your notes might look something like this: Left on Sheridan Ave. - 2.3 miles. Right on 2nd Street- two blocks. Crossover Washington Way – proceed on three more blocks. Turn left into parking lot.

6. Now take your map and your notes and drive the route you have planned. Glance at your notes if you need to – leave your map folded up. If you must consult your map en route, don't attempt to do so while you drive. Select a safe, off-the-road parking spot, pull over and take you time to get oriented again. Memorize what you have reviewed, fold the map, put it away, and proceed on your trip. Do not do the typical tourist thing – coming to a stop sign, yanking out the map, unfolding the thing, covering the windshield, trying to find yourself before traffic pulls up behind you, then with horns blaring behind you, pulling out into traffic with the map obscuring your vision, still lost and endangering yourself and others. Be cool, pull over, think it through and then proceed.

7. Now, hopefully, you have arrived at your destination and had a wonderful time. If you wish to return home the way you came, you likely can retrace your route with no notes needed. Choosing a different route may require that you jot down notes again.

8. Last but not least, get out and do it! Use the map, plan, take notes, drive, do it! Get lost, find yourself, try again. Have no fear. If worse comes to worst and you are hopelessly lost, call home. The point is – practise - practise. You can do it, and then you won't have to worry about the battery on the GPS running down, or whether or not it will get stolen while you're in the store. You'll have the GPS in your head for the rest of your life. You can do it!

Article added: 09 March 2009

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If all else fails,
give the wheel to
someone with a good
sense of direction.

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